The Middle East Institute and the Conflict Management Program at SAIS are pleased to host a panel discussion about the outcome of Iraq's April 30 parliamentary elections and the political challenges ahead. The first parliamentary vote held since the 2010 U.S. withdrawal, the election was preceded by Iraq's worst surge in sectarian violence since 2008, fueled by growing political disputes. As Iraq's leaders embark on a protracted process of assembling a government from divided political blocs, speakers Zalmay Khalilzad, Abbas Kadhim, Denise Natali, and Saifaldin Abdul-Rahman will discuss Iraq's future with moderator Daniel Serwer.
Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad served as U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations (2007-2009). Prior to that, he served as U.S. ambassador to Iraq (2005-2007) and U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan (2003-2005). He also served as U.S. special presidential envoy to Afghanistan (2001-2003). He was a special presidential envoy and ambassador at large for Free Iraqis (2002-2003). He served as the deputy under secretary of defense for policy planning (1991-1992).
Abbas Kadhim is a senior foreign policy fellow at SAIS. He specializes in Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Islam. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2006. His recent publications include Reclaiming Iraq: the 1920 Revolution and the Founding of the Modern State (The University of Texas Press 2012), The Hawza under Siege: A Study in the Ba‘th Party Archive, (Boston University Institute for Iraqi Studies 2013), and Handbook of Governance in the Middle East and North Africa (Routledge, 2013). He is currently engaged in a research project examining the Ba’ath Party Archives hosted by the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
Denise Natali is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) where she specializes on the Middle East, trans-border Kurdish issues, regional energy security, and post-conflict state-building. Dr. Natali joined INSS in January 2011 as the Minerva Chair, following more than two decades of researching and working in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Previously, Dr. Natali worked on the Gulf Relief Crisis Project for the American Red Cross International Division in Washington, D.C., as director of cross-border operations for a non-governmental organization (NGO) in Peshawar Pakistan, and as an information officer for USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance in northern Iraq.
Saifaldin Abdul-Rahman is vice president of IWG, Inc., a U.S.-Iraqi firm providing consulting, logistics, and construction work in Iraq. Mr. Abdul-Rahman held senior posts in the government of Iraq, including as advisor to the vice president of Iraq (2009), chief of staff to the speaker of parliament (2005), and chief of staff to the minister of industry and minerals (2004). He also assisted in engineering Iraq’s election law during the days of the Iraqi Governing Council. Prior to working for the presidency, he served as the director general of the Iraqi parliament’s research directorate. Mr. Abdul-Rahman also participated in the negotiations on the status of forces agreement with the United States. He holds a degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Daniel Serwer (Moderator) is a senior research professor of conflict management and senior fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, as well as a scholar at The Middle East Institute. He was vice president for the Center of Peacebuilding Innovation at the United States Institute of Peace (2009-10), and VP for peace and stability operations (1998-2009), during which time he led peacebuilding efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and the Balkans and served as executive director of the Hamilton/Baker Iraq Study Group. Serwer has worked on preventing inter-ethnic and sectarian conflict in Iraq and has facilitated dialogue between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans.